But as the spacecraft quickly approached the landing pad, it failed to return back to the vertical landing position, instead slamming into the ground. The mostly successful test flight of SN9 mirrored that of its predecessor, SN8, which flew on December 9 and likewise ended in a fiery failed landing.
Throughout much of January, rumors about the date of SN9’s flight fluttered around Twitter and other social media outlets. And in recent days, SpaceX was awaiting approval from the FAA for their flight, which they finally got on February 1. According to The Verge, who first reported the story, SpaceX violated some of the FAA’s rules and regulations during the testing of SN8. It’s not clear what parts of the test violated the rules.
SpaceX is known for rapidly pushing forward with consecutive tests — and that was evident during today’s flight. As SN9 launched (and later exploded upon landing), it was impossible to ignore SpaceX’s next prototype, SN10, stately standing on a nearby pad. As of now, the company has not released an official timeline for SN10’s test flight, but it’s safe to say that they hope to stick the landing this time.